We have a Charolais leppy bull calf, and he is kind of a big deal. His uncle was the Grand Champion Charolais Bull at the American Royal this past November. “Taylor” as the boys call him has some pretty big shoes to fill. He comes from Small Charolais of Mountain City, where he would still be if he wasn’t an orphan. His mom died shortly after he was born, and where my sister commutes from Boise on the weekends, we inherited him to feed for the time being. Apparently home owners associations around Boise frown on cattle in your yard, no matter how big your yard is!
Truth be told, we are suckers for strays and leppies. Taylor the Charolais has taken some getting used to. The horses and dogs just don’t know what to think of him, he’s the wrong color. I hate to admit it, but he has kind of grown on me. While his white hair will never compare to the eye appeal of a Black Angus, he definitely has personality. I know we aren’t supposed to make him too gentle, but it is pretty hard not to when you are hand feeding him a couple of times a day. From playing with the boys to putting his nose low enough for the puppy to lick the crumbs off his face, he has character.
Now that the boys are in school, I do a little cowboy/ranching presentation for 3rd graders during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering every January. The schools go all out during the week. From guest speakers to roping lessons to dress up days, students are encouraged to wear bandanas, jeans, western shirts, and cowboy hats, or what we like to call “our ordinary, everyday clothes.” They do a really good job with it, and I am happy to report that their students have a pretty good grasp of agriculture and where their food comes from. This year I took Taylor and made arrangements with TR’s teacher for him to bring his class out to meet his leppy.
My neighbor Rachel helped me. She borrowed the Beef Byproducts presentation from the Elko County Cattlewomen so we could show students where beef comes from and how the whole cow is used. I started out showing students Taylor, and explaining what a leppy is, what breed he is, and what he is used for. Rachel finished up by explaining how when we slaughter a beef animal we use nearly the entire animal, and how each part of a cow is utilized. It was a really good presentation, we spoke to nearly 125 eight year olds and answered a lot of questions.
After the last group of 3rd graders, it was time for TR and his class. I had tried to prep him ahead of time so he (and I!) knew what he would tell his class about Taylor. Granted he is only 7 years old, I thought he was well prepared and I wouldn’t have to say too much, or do too much damage control.
I wish we would have filmed him. TR marched his class to the horse trailer like a little drill sergeant and lined them up around the door so they could all see the calf. He hopped up in the trailer, leaned against the wall, cocked a hind leg, and put his thumbs in his belt loops. Then he watched his classmates. Finally after a couple of minutes he said “I’m not going to tell you guys anything until you get quiet and listen to ME!” You could have heard a pin drop. He had everyone’s attention and then he started his talk.
TR was in his element. While we need to work a little on his delivery and PR skills, he did pretty well. Mom had to prompt him a few times, and cringed when he was a little too enthusiastic in explaining Taylor’s “mother was DEAD!” and that we would be eating him someday. He spoke loudly, and clearly, and willingly answered 3 questions, additional questions were answered under duress. All in all it was a good afternoon, the afternoon Taylor went to school.